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A few shovels of dirt ceremoniously heaved from the earth marked the beginning of construction on June Lake, Spring Hill’s latest mixed-use development project, on June 3.

The 775-acre project is evidence of Spring Hill’s growing popularity, both in its own right and as a commuter city. The city straddles Maury and Williamson counties about 35 miles south of Nashville, and has more than doubled in size in less than 20 years.

This month, Spring Hill usurped Brentwood–Franklin and Germantown–Metro Center to become the greater Nashville area’s third-hottest submarket, according to ApartmentData.com. (Downtown–The Gulch–SoBro placed first, followed by La Vergne–Smyrna.)

June Lake will eventually span more than 2,900 residential units, 3.9 million square feet of office space, almost 1.3 million square feet of retail and restaurant space and 400 hotel rooms, constructed over several years. 

Builder Signature Homes will start construction on June Lake’s first 400 detached residences in April 2022. Paired with a new I-65 interchange on track to open in May 2023, June Lake will become a “gateway” into the growing city, according to developer Southeast Venture.

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Signs advertising model home viewings and future project phases for other developments already dot nearby Duplex Road and other streets, a view capped by the white-wrapped shells of new homes.

According to Southern Middle Tennessee Association of Realtors President Daniel Haney, it’s clear what’s driving the influx of new residents: lower cost of living, proximity to larger cities, new jobs and quality of life.

Popularity leads to tight housing market

Homes are spending an average of just 8 days on the market in Spring Hill, compared to roughly 30 days a year ago, Haney said.

In May, 144 units sold and closed, with an average sale price of just over $451,500, according to Realtracs data. At the start of the month, there were just 36 active or “coming soon” home listings in Spring Hill, Haney said. (More homes are typically listed throughout the month, but this starting inventory is low, according to Haney.)

Like other nearby Middle Tennessee markets, demand in Spring Hill is outpacing supply. The city is seeing overflow interest as some look toward Nashville’s suburbs for a place to call home. Spring Hill is within commuting distance from Nashville and Franklin, and the pandemic-induced rise in remote work has opened up new possibilities for out-of-state transplants.

“We’re seeing the same patterns as other parts of the state: higher list pricing and properties that are selling more than list price,” Haney said.

Ultimately, the June Lake development will offer 2,900 residential units, though project manager Don Alexander said the project won’t speed up development at the cost of quality to respond to ballooning demand. 

Spring Hill Town Crossing, another proposed mixed-use development on 50 acres off Port Royal Road, would feature 300 multi-family units alongside a grocery store, hotel, gas station and 50,000 square feet of retail, office and restaurant space.

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The Spring Hill–Columbia area added 1,220 apartment units between 2019 and 2020, according to the Greater Nashville Apartment Association. During the same period, Brentwood–Franklin added 748 units, Smyrna–La Vergne added 356, and Murfreesboro added nearly 2,000. 

In June, the average monthly rent for an apartment in Spring Hill was $1,181 — relatively inexpensive compared to other popular Davidson and Williamson county neighborhoods — with 97.6% of units occupied, according to ApartmentData.com. Apartment occupancy in the area topped 90% in September and has been steadily climbing since.

City aims for ‘smart growth’

In 2005, roughly 20,000 people called Spring Hill home. In 2019, the city had closer to 44,000 residents.

Spring Hill and neighboring Thompson’s Station were named the state’s fastest-growing cities in 2018. Visitors to Spring Hill are greeted by a sign welcoming them to “The 14th Fastest Growing City in the Nation!”

But its prolific growth has come with challenges, straining Spring Hill’s infrastructure. 

Newly-elected Mayor Jim Hagaman, who participated in the June Lake groundbreaking, said “smart growth” was a key part of his campaign. 

“(Having the) fastest growth, by itself, is not great,” Hagaman said. 

Hagaman said June Lake is an example of “smart growth” that meets criteria set out by the Spring Hill Rising plan, which aims to temper the city’s development and keep growth in line with local needs and character.

With Middle Tennessee and the area surrounding Spring Hill continuing to draw corporate campuses, the number of local jobs and residents is expected to continue to climb. 

Tennessee Department of Economic and Community Development Deputy Commissioner Allen Borden celebrated the area’s growth in his remarks at the June Lake groundbreaking. 

Nissan North America and Schneider Electric have corporate campuses in nearby Franklin, and MARS Petcare located its Global Innovation Center in Thompson’s Station.

“These companies can choose to invest their capital virtually anywhere in the world,” Borden said. “They are global brands, and they have choices. They’ve made these choices right here in (the) Williamson County, Spring Hill area because they have been able to find what they need when it comes to an address … talent and workforce.”

General Motors’ 2,100-acre facility on Spring Hill’s Maury County side currently employs about 3,400 hourly workers, but could employ more as GM upgrades the existing plant to further its electric vehicle production goals. GM and LG Energy Solution announced in April their plans for a 2.8 million-square-foot Ultium Cells electric vehicle battery factory in Spring Hill that’s expected to create 1,300 new manufacturing jobs.

Part of Spring Hill’s draw is its quality of life, Hagaman said, something the city is looking to build into the fabric of new projects. Mixed-use developments aim

to integrate residential life with access to office space and a growing spate of retail offerings.

“Part of smart growth, besides rooftops, incorporates the businesses that we want to come, where our citizens can shop, where they can play and where they can eat,” Hagaman said. “All of those businesses are welcome. It’s a great place to set up shop, and we will do that smartly.”

Cassandra Stephenson covers business at The Tennessean, part of the USA Today Network — Tennessee. Reach Cassandra at ckstephenson@tennessean.com or at (731) 694-7261. Follow Cassandra on Twitter at @CStephenson731.

Publication: The Tennessean

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